Online economy: Need to protect consumers amid concentration of online economy in hands of few: Govt | So Good News


Expressing concern at the growth of the promotion of financial services on the Internet among a few companies in many sectors, the government on Monday said that there is a need to protect the interest of consumers and prevent exploitation.

The government also said that consumer complaints related to online shopping are on the rise and said that of all the complaints registered last month on the National Consumer Helpline (NCH), 38-40 percent related to e-commerce.

Speaking at an international conference on urgent and urgent dispute resolution, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal said consumer commissions are the only hope for consumers who need justice.

However, the high number of cases and delays in justice is a concern that needs to be addressed with “joint efforts,” he said.

Consumer organizations have to follow the timelines as per the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 in order to prosecute cases. The committees should resolve cases within 3-5 months of writing, he added.

The minister said that reducing the number of suspensions, increasing infrastructure in district courts, encouraging mediation, e-filing and e-disposal should help reduce the number of cases.

So far, 153 regional committees, 11 state committees and the National Commission have established mediation centers, he said, and asked other countries to speed up the establishment of mediation centers and appoint mediators.

The minister also asked all the committees to see how WhatsApp and email can be used to provide information and receive feedback.

Emphasizing that consumer courts have a major role to play in protecting consumers’ rights amid the consolidation of the Internet economy, Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh said: “With consolidation, the power of the big players is increasing and there is a power imbalance for consumers.”

When the Internet came in 2000, it was seen that it would lead to democratization and decentralization but today all economic activities are gradually integrated, he said.

For example in e-commerce, including taxis, food and beverage businesses, there are two out of three major players. In the telecom sector too, there are four major players, he said.

To ensure that the conflict of power of the big players does not affect the interest of consumers, the secretary said, “… it is important that we stand firmly on the side of consumers and through committees we ensure that consumers are not robbed and that their rights are not violated.”

For these reasons, Singh emphasized the need to focus on reducing the reliance on litigation in consumer courts and providing quick and affordable justice to consumers.

The president of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Justice RK Agrawal cited the weakness of judges, delay in filling up the seats in the consumer courts, lack of resources and manpower, improper adjournments taken by lawyers on flimsy grounds etc. as the main reasons for appeals.

There were 6 lakh pending cases as of March 31, 2022 in the national, state and district governments though 89 per cent people lost, he said.

Minister of State for Consumer Affairs Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, and Additional Secretary Nidhi Khare were also present in the meeting.


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